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Can START stop cholesterol build-up?

23 June 2010 Biochemical Society, The

A newly discovered group of proteins could help treat cholesterol build-up in arteries.

This build-up leads to atherosclerosis or ‘hardening of the arteries’, and the resulting condition, coronary heart disease, kills an estimated 124,000 each year in England and Wales.

In a paper in the latest issue of Clinical Science, Annette Graham and colleagues at Glasgow Caledonian University report on the use of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein-related lipid transfer (START) proteins to remove excess cholesterol from macrophage foam cells (cells that form obstacles in the arteries) and stop atherosclerotic lesions growing and even shrink them.

The most promising protein in the START family is STARD3 and this will be used in further experiments to see if it can form the basis for a therapy which will reduce cholesterol synthesis and build-up.

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